From Hill to Sea: Book and Film


We are delighted to announce that our book, From Hill to Sea, will be published in November 2015 by Bread and Circuses Publishing. (Tom Vague, King Mob, Guy Debord etc). Details about the book’s content and a ten minute film can be viewed on the Bread and Circuses website here.

There will be an initial, full colour, limited edition print run and also an eBook. Further information about the book will be posted here and on the Bread and Circuses website when available. If you are interested in reserving a copy of the numbered, limited edition print run, or being kept informed about the book’s publication, please email:

info [at]

What started out as a short trailer for the book, expanded to a ten minute film. Any rational person may have tried to edit this down but we have left it to view in whole or in part. If nothing else, you can enjoy the sounds of Oneohtrix Point Never and The Durutti Column.

Murdo Eason will also be doing some readings from the book at various forthcoming events. We will post details on this blog and on twitter @fifepsy

Thanks to everyone who has been supportive and encouraging of our endeavours to date. It is greatly appreciated.

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Underneath the M90


Up above, the sound is like a collision of thunder arriving from north and south. Traffic heading to unknown destinations, running up and down the asphalt spine of the M90 motorway. Here, underneath the flyover, the concrete walls have become vast, abstract-expressionist assemblages. Layer upon layer of weather effects, pollution spray, pigment and human mark-making.  It is only the walker who will notice these. Why, would you dwell, to look, if travelling in a car?

Has any disorientated walker followed the arrow east TO DIVIT, or west TO THE RO?


Unusual names – DIVIT, THE RO.

Consulting any official map will be of little help. There will be no record of these places. Perhaps we are standing on a territorial boundary line. DIVIT being a local name for Inverkeithing to the east. THE RO is Rosyth to the west. That human compulsion to establish borders and territories. Points of entry or exit. Lines pronouncing otherness, even when invisible and local.

Not far away, a universally recognised symbol. How many times has a heart shape been inscribed on a surface across time and space? From Cro-Magnon cave walls, via the ancient Greeks – a symbol of life and morality and possibly an association with Dionysus and love – to the more familiar symbol of romantic love emerging in the 1200s. Anyone using social media will recognise <3 <3 <3.

Under this motorway flyover, a black heart in brush stroke, partly over-painted in white. The shape immediately recognisable, a symbol we can all ‘understand’. But does the nuance of its meaning remain with the mark maker? We connect through common language but subtleties of difference always escape, to be either celebrated or repressed.

Is that a human figure we see enclosed within the heart? Possibly kneeling? Who can say?This small detail, on the patina of concrete canvas, remains a daub of mystery. A symbol as elusive and remote from the casual observer as the Pictish symbols, found further up the Fife coast, carved in the Wemyss Caves around 600 – 700 AD.


The difference between the who and the what at the heart of love, separates the heart. It is often said that love is the movement of the heart. Does my heart move because I love someone who is an absolute singularity, or because I love the way that someone is?

Jacques Derrida

Now playing: Julian Priester Pepo Mtoto – Love, Love

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The Brutalist Butterfly


Walking up Lady Lawson Street in Edinburgh, I stopped for a closer look at Argyle House, an office block dating from 1968, designed by the architectural practice of Michael Laird & Partners.  The building has many critics and is often described as an ‘eyesore’ and one of Edinburgh’s ‘ugliest buildings’. It appears to exist under a constant threat of erasure from property developers, and the City of Edinburgh Council, proposing new (re)development schemes.

The façade which borders the north side of West Port and the junction of Lady Lawson Street is very much of the brutalist box style. All right angles, rectangular windows and the material heft of concrete and harling.

Today, walking in behind the building, I see it from a different angle. The hidden curves, the windows as light reflecting scales. It takes on the appearance of some brutalist insect, flexing its wings, as if about to fly.

Now playing: Asva – Futurists Against the Ocean.

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The Moon Whispers



Almost fully formed, a singing light filling the sky. The temptation to climb up a ladder, over the chimneys and walk through the clouds. Like a moth, drawn towards the light.




On nights such as this, we all stop to gaze at the moon.

But the moon returns our gaze. Whispers softly to us:


In the dark, I see

a small blue planet.

Care for her well.*

The moon photographed over Fife on 27th August, 2015.

*a contribution to Ai Weiwei & Olafur Eliasson’s interactive Moon project.

Now playing: Terry Riley and Don Cherry – ‘Descending Moonshine Dervishes’ from Live Köln 1975

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To dwell means to leave traces

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Very small ghost sign on doorway entrance, St Leonard’s Street, Southside, Edinburgh.


“To dwell means to leave traces”.

Walter Benjamin


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On the front elevation of the same building. Traces of the old bell pulls.

Now playing: Polwechsel & John Tilbury – ‘Place/Replace/Represent’ from Field.

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Cut Grass Radio Show, Music and Landscape


We were recently asked to select a few tracks and talk about them for Cut Grass, the music show on totallyradio, hosted by Grasscut.

For anyone not familiar, Grasscut are the landscape-focused, musical duo of composer/producer/vocalist/musician Andrew Phillips and manager/musician Marcus O’Dair. As Grasscut, they have released two albums on Ninja Tune, with their third album Everyone Was a Bird – ‘an album born of footfall’ – recently released on Lo Recordings. Sleeve notes are by none other than Robert Macfarlane.

Grasscut have performed across Europe and worked with musicians including Robert Wyatt, John Surman and the Kronos Quartet. Marcus has also written a highly acclaimed, authorised biography of Robert Wyatt, Different Every Time, published in 2014.

The tracks we selected for the show were by: John Cage, Wire, Vashti Bunyan, Black Box Recorder, Barry Guy and Laura Cannell. There is a host of other great music featured and also extracts of readings by the poet Charles Olson.

You can listen to the radio programme here


We also wrote a piece for the Grasscut blog, loosely based around several themes connecting music and landscape:

In a Landscape

Secular Pilgrimage

Specific Places

Sound in Spaces

Arterial Connectivity

Apocalyptic Landscapes


The piece outlines in more detail the reasons for our track selections and pulls in a whole range of other music including: Patti Smith, Sandy Denny, Áine O’Dwyer, Brötzmann & Bennink, La Monte Young and Corrupted. You can read the piece here and/or read a couple of extracts below.



In a Landscape

Silence is not acoustic. It is a change of mind, a turning around.

John Cage

In a Landscape, a composition by John Cage is, arguably, one of the more ‘tuneful’ of his works. Written for solo piano or harp, it throws a nod towards Satie and borders on Impressionism. The title as an existential statement could hardly be bettered. Not walking through a landscape, but the conscious realisation of (being) in a landscape. It is also worth noting that Cage’s (in)famous silent piece 4’33” was first performed in a landscape. The Maverick Concert Hall is an open-air theatre, on the outskirts of Woodstock, New York, which was built in 1916 to present ‘Music in the Woods’. Kyle Gann notes that there about as many seats outside of the hall, as in, and that oak, maple hemlock and shagbark-hickory trees intrude gently upon the listening space. On the evening of Friday, 29th August 1952, the pianist David Tudor opened and closed the piano list as instructed by the score. The merits or otherwise of the ‘silent piece’, 4’33”, have and will continue to be debated, but if nothing else, our view is that it is an invitation to really listen and become aware of your surroundings. Cage himself notes that the sounds he heard during the performance included the wind stirring, raindrops patterning the roof and the noise of people as they walked out …

Kay Larson says: “before anything else, (4’33”) is an experience.” It is a proposition that says, in notational shorthand: stop for a moment and look around you and listen; stop and look; stop and listen. “Something” and “Nothing” can never be divided.

Perhaps a useful thought for any landscape wanderer to ponder …


Secular Pilgrimage


We have always been attracted to the idea of the motivated journey, or secular pilgrimage such as Werner Herzog’s walk from Munich to Paris recounted in Of Walking in Ice. The other dimension is the juxtaposition of an idea or image of a place, constructed before arriving, and the lived reality of actually experiencing it. In early 1970s New York, a young Patti Smith, obsessed with the poet Arthur Rimbaud, hatched a plan to travel to Harar in Ethiopia to find Rimbaud’s (imagined) lost valise:

I would return with the contents of the mysterious case, preserved in Abyssinian dust, and present it to the world.

Attempts to raise funding for the trip from “publishers, patrons and literary foundations” were met with bemused nods and Smith concluded that “the imagined secret papers of Rimbaud were not a fashionable cause.” However, Smith did manage to scrape up enough funds to head to Charleville in France, the place where the poet was born and buried. Smith recounts her experiences in a short text Charleville:

“I carried my raincoat and ventured into the Charleville night. It was quite dark and I walked the wide and empty quai Rimbaud. I felt a little afraid but then suddenly in the distance I saw a tiny light, a small neon sign — Rimbaud Bar. I stopped and took a breath, unable to believe my good fortune. I advanced slowly afraid it would disappear like a mirage in a desert…”

A bar where she would feed the jukebox with a: “crazy mix of Charles Aznavour, Hank Williams and Cat Stevens”.

This short book is a combination of the idealised image of a place, carried by Smith and the reality of her lived experiences such as finding the Rimbaud museum closed and bringing some blue glass beads from Harar to Rimbaud’s grave. “I felt that, since he was unable to return to Harar, I should bring a bit of Harar to him.”

Of course Smith’s pilgrimage experience seeps into much of her subsequent writing. The power of place imagined, experienced and carried within:

I gotta move from my mind to the area

(go Rimbaud go Rimbaud go Rimbaud)

‘Land’ from Horses.

The full blog piece can be read here:

All of the Cut Grass radio shows can be listened to here:


Kyle Gann, No Such Thing as Silence, John Cage’s 4’33” (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2010).

Kay Larson, Where the Heart Beats: John Cage, Zen Buddhism and the Inner Life of Artists (New York: The Penguin Press, 2012).

Patti Smith, Charleville (Paris/Arles: FondationCartier pour l’art contemprain/Actes Sud, 2008).

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View from the Bridge



View from the bridge

Always different,

always the same


Now playing: Ralph Towner – Blue Sun

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